Truly great opening credit sequences in film and television are hard to come by. For the most part, this part of the creative process is left to finish at the end of everything else with much less care or passion involved. That’s fair, because, really, if a piece of entertainment is good on its own, then generic credits won’t detract from the final product (looking at you, Wrath of Khan) — and decent sequences tacked onto crummy products just bums everyone out (hello, Watchmen!). But when the credits are done right, they’re as memorable as what they precede and really do make the entire runtime of a movie or TV episode of a whole piece. (Look no further than the refashioned opening for “Once More with Feeling” to see what I mean.) The best sequences are those we don’t mind watching over and over, even back-to-back.
But sometimes even the best of the best could be altered, changing tones or styles, and reveal something about the shows we love that their main titles just don’t quite get at. That’s what this list and the fan-made videos included herein are aiming for. I’ve tried to stay away from in-canon remixes, though some of the better onces are referened below, because as with most things, the people watching tend to have just as strong a grasp on the material, if not better, than the people making it. Well, at least the YouTubers behind these 15 Best Remixes (for some) of Our Favorite Television Shows’ Opening Credits do. And they aren’t just the same old credits with new music layered over, but completely original edits. Enjoy!
“Game of Thrones” as scored by Nerf Herder’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” theme
Not to be outdone by the HBO series’ Emmy-winning title sequence composed by Ramin Djawadi and animated by Angus Wall’s studio, Rock Paper Scissors, which is mandatory viewing along with every episode, this take on “Game of Thrones” axes the self-serious tone and just dives into the visceral fun of the show. I’m not sure how I feel about Jon Snow as the ostensible lead, but I’d be lying if I said this wouldn’t get me sufficiently pumped every single week.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in the style of “Friends”
Going from the pop punk stylings of Nerf Herder to the clean and nice boys from the Rembrandts is almost as big an alteration from “Thrones” to “Buffy,” but the lyrics here are much more apropos for the Scoobs than they were for the Central Perk crew. Every single line speaks to the utterly depressing nature of being the Chosen One, but like Joss Whedon’s cult classic, it will all turn out mostly fine with a little help from her friends. That both shows were in their prime in the late 1990s probably helps.
“Friends” in the style of the new “90210”
Now, considering most TV shows feature ensembles, it probably isn’t too surprising that the “Friends” theme is overused in the opening credits parody genre of Internet videos, but it seems like the Ross, Rachel, and Chandler Bing have gotten the short end of the stick in terms of getting remixed themselves. But this Beverly Hills-ish take really brings out the goofiest aspects of the six “Friends,” and feels exactly right. It must be so short because this particular episode went long, I’m guessing it must be “The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break.”
What if “Mad Men” was a fast-paced sitcom like “30 Rock?”
Another super short, but super sweet opening credits that posits what “Mad Men” might look like if it more fully embraced its comic sensibilities. It’s already one of the funniest shows on TV, so the idea of turning Don Draper into Jack Donaghy and Peggy Olson into Liz Lemon is now something I desperately want to see. And, no, an SNL sketch won’t cut it. For more “Mad Men” fun, check out this couch gag from a recent Halloween episode of “The Simpsons.”
What if “Breaking Bad” were made in the 1990s?
Speaking of critically acclaimed AMC shows that also got the official “The Simpsons” treatment… “Breaking Bad” is the other subtly funniest show on TV, but what would it look like if it had been conceived and produced 20 years earlier and in the same vein as “7th Heaven?” It would probably still be pretty funny, but perhaps less intentionally so. Either way, Bryan Cranston would undoubtedly need to keep the mantle over his fireplace cleared for all those inevitable Emmy statuettes.
“Fringe” by way of “Firefly”
Now, “Fringe” is already famous for mixing up its opening credits, especially in the much-loved flashback episode that focused on John Noble’s cross-dimensional science dad adventures in 1985, but the soulful nature of Whedon’s words and Sonny Rhodes’ vocals reveals a somewhat crunchier, more emotional and less technobabbling series. I can’t decide if it’s what would happen if “soul magnets” had been a thing from the beginning, or if it’s the theme for a series initially set in the parallel universe.
“Firefly” as if it were a Sci-Fi original series (also circa 1995)
While I’ve always an affection for “The Battle of Serenity Valley” that some of the show’s fans do not share (hey, it isn’t as bad gorram “Enterprise”), I can’t deny that a slicker, science-fictionier credits sequence wouldn’t have been welcome. At the very least, this would have been the best Sci-Fi (or, Syfy for you kids) series ever. And if you’re missing Simon here, don’t worry, he gets his own spin-off in this reality.
“Battlestar Galactica” if it were more hopeful, like the bitchy and backstabbing “Dallas”
Ok, well, that network’s greatest show before the re-imagined “Battlestar Galactica” comes out of nowhere and falcon punches everyone’s expectations into the incredibly distant past. Then again, if that spiritual and militaristic groundbreaker had been the pulpier, goofier successor to the original 70s and 80s series people like me thought it would be, maybe it wouldn’t have even warranted a parody title sequence. I think we can be happy that it was awesome and that this “Dallas”-ized credits exists.
“Doctor Who” if it were more epic, like the emotionally oppressive “Battlestar Galactica”
Speaking of spiritual and militaristic, only one of those (sort of) pertains to the long-running BBC classic, “Doctor Who.” The Doctor is anything but a grim, grizzled battle commander like Will Adama, even when played by Christopher Eccleston, who is notable for his grimmer and grizzlier roles prior to and after his one season on the show. But this is definitely a direction I’d like to see “Who” take when, or if, it ever finally ends.
“Community” in the mockumentary style of “Parks and Recreation”
If you can’t enough of Bear McCreary’s and Richard Gibbs’ theme, then there’s a very special title sequence for the “Modern Warfare” episode of “Community,” but, despite its undisputed radassitude, that doesn’t really get at the heart of the NBC sitcom. On the other hand, simply swapping out the palettes with another Thursday night NBC comedy, “Parks and Rec,” works beautifully. It’s enough to make me wonder how different Dan Harmon’s love letter to humanity would be if it always had the “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking” style, and how often that series would be on the cancellation bubble.
BBC’s “Sherlock” if it were even more like USA’s “Psych”
Obviously, one of the common threads of parody title sequences is taking something dark and serious and making it more lighthearted. It’s pretty elemental comedy, really. But it works exceedingly well with “Sherlock,” which isn’t oppressive like “Battlestar” but wears its Masterpiece Theater origins chip proudly on Benedict Cumberbatch’s shoulder. Of course, “Psych” really is just Sherlock Holmes if he’d grown up a quintessential American slacker, so the combination works wonderfully. If it were real, it couldn’t be any worse than “Elementary.”
What if the super silly “Scrubs” was the super serious “ER?”
Speaking of things that take themselves too seriously, “ER” was, like, the most serious show for the most serious people in the history of serious television. While “Scrubs” could assuredly turn maudlin on a dime, it was also incredibly goofy and surreal, so what would a mash-up of the medical professionals from Los Angeles County General and Sacred Heart look like? Perhaps a little something like this…
“Lost” gets the “Baywatch” treatment
And, of course, “Lost” was so serious about itself that it didn’t even have an opening credit sequence, just a glitchy logo floating through an empty void and accompanied by Michael Giaccino-esque noise. Of course, that was exactly right for “Lost,” but if I’m being honest, then just once I’d have loved to see a more stereotypical title sequence and what better way than to homage another show about beautiful people saving other beautiful people on a beach? Yes, there’s a lot of running in slow motion. Just as there should be.
“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” finally gets a decent theme, thanks to a guardian “Angel”
For all the unfair things to the “Sarah Connor Chronicles” had to go through on Fox, perhaps the worst, which only really becomes annoying on re-watch, is that the show was never really given a theme song laden opening credits. To be fair, there could be just as much “previously on…” material as the last season of the aforementioned “Lost” they needed to get through, or the network could have decided its audience wasn’t full of idiots. Darling Violettea’s theme for another Fox show, “Angel,” works so well that it is much less jarring than it should be. Fitting, since one Whedon show basically killed “Sarah Connor” (when “Dollhouse” was picked up instead), that another could have made even it better.
“Supernatural” embraces its “Dexter”-like oddities
“Supernatural” is a show that is pretty heavily saddled with apparent mediocrity, and mostly because it airs on The CW. But, for at least the first few seasons, that is entirely unfair because “Supernatural” is actually pretty awesome and much closer to the “Buffy” successor Whedon fans had been hoping for than “Smallville” or “The Vampire Diaries.” The show is also saddled with a pretty generic hard rock theme, too, but if it advertised the humor and weirdness at its core — and that’s not even counting the paranormal — or, been on Showtime instead, it might have been a legitimate crossover hit. Seriously, this “Dexter”ous opening belies a series worth paying for premium cable. This “True Blood” riff only solidifies my case.
What if George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire was actually Walt Disney’s Kingdom Hearts?
I scoured the Internet to search for some intrepid video editor who would take on doing their own version of the “Game of Thrones” credit sequence, because it’s just too good not be heard or seen. But, clearly, clockwork kingdoms are mighty big cured leather boots to fill, and a whole lot more work would be involved with the creation of new animations than the relatively simple re-mixing of clips and music. And then I found this title sequence for the near entirety of the Walt Disney canon, replacing 3D morphing models with various landscape and action shots from, like, all the Disney movies. It’s impressive. Most impressive.
Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He was hoping to find an anime-styled “South Park” opening, but the Google search required to find it was too upsetting.